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Braves sign Craig Kimbrel to four-year, $42M extension

Feb 16, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT

craig kimbrel getty Getty Images

The Braves have signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a four-year contract extension, avoiding salary arbitration for the next three seasons and locking him up through at least his first year of free agency. This according to the club’s official Twitter account.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says the deal also carries a club option for the 2018 season, which would be Kimbrel’s second year of free agency.

The total potential value of the four-year contract and club option is $58 million, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. It has $42 million guaranteed.

Kimbrel, 25, owns a ridiculous 1.39 ERA and 15.1 K/9 in 227 1/3 career major league innings. He saved a league-high 50 games last year for the Braves, who finished 10 games up in the National League East.

Atlanta has also inked first baseman Freddie Freeman and starting pitcher Julio Teheran to long-term extensions this winter, and outfielder Jason Heyward avoided arbitration earlier this month on a two-year, $13.3 million deal.

  1. toodrunktotastethischicken - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:00 AM

    Hey Drew
    I think you mean first basement Freddie Freeman, not Craig Kimbrel

    • Drew Silva - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Gah. Thanks.

    • nymets4ever - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:21 AM

      Hey toodrunktotastethischicken
      I think you mean first baseman Freddie Freeman, not first basement Freddie Freeman

      • Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Nah, he meant first basement Freddie Freeman, who plays next to sub-basement Dan Uggla.

  2. Francisco (FC) - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Man Craig Kimbrel is so awesome he not only saves games but mashes at first base too.

  3. Dan Camponovo - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Is my math wrong, or does that mean the fifth year option is worth $16million? That’s absurd.

    • Dan Camponovo - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      Ah, just saw another report that says the option is for $13million, with an additional $3.5million for various performance bonuses. That’s easier to stomach.

  4. uyf1950 - Feb 16, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    According to MLBTR including the option it’s a five years potentially $58.5MM total = $11.7MM AAV it’s not a bad deal IF Kimbrel can continue to perform AND stays healthy. I’m also curious to know if some of the money is back loaded. That could indicate that the Braves might be willing or ;looking to trade him the last year or 2 of the deal if a disproportionate amount of the money comes at the back end of the deal.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:45 AM

      It’s probably backloaded to a degree – teams that do deals to buy out arbitration years usually try to scale the dollars to what the players might have earned through arbitration. If I had to guess, it would probably be something along the lines of $7.5MM/$9.5MM/$12MM/$13MM/$13MM.

    • 78mu - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Except back-loaded contracts are the hardest to unload.

      If he keeps pitching the way he has he’ll be with Braves for the duration of the contract.

  5. leylandshospicenurse - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    First off, I am loving the hire of John Hart. My perception of the Braves front office and ownership is rapidly shifting.

    • dontcallmepete - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      While John Hart is a great hire this deal is Frank Wren. Hart doesn’t sign or decide who gets signed.

  6. onbucky96 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    With him signing a huge deal, the elbow problems should start in 3…2…1…

    • 78mu - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      While injuries are always a risk, I would worry about the mistake teams make overvaluing relief pitchers.

      Though if Kimbrel continues to give the 3+ WAR each year it will be worth it.

  7. Rick Cosmo - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    nice work Atlanta this winter signing key players..now sign ANDRELTON SIMMONS

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      He has TWO more years left on his rookie contract BEFORE he’s even arbitration eligible… His arbitration years are three yrs like everyone else.

      They’ve got time before they need to sign him up long term… He’s ONLY played one season. Let them make sure he can not only sustain, but improve a bit at the plate. He could develop a bit more discipline at the plate by drawing a few more walks, hitting more line drives etc…

      Castro of the Cubs started great too, got a big contract and now he’s no where near as good as he was.

      No team signs a player long term after one season. Not even Mike Trout got a long term deal after his FIRST season. Trout’s second season was just like his first season and now they are trying.

      Let this kid show he isn’t a one year wonder. Love his glove though and glad he won the Platinum award. He and that kid at 3rd base for the O’s are amazing in the field…

      • Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Evan Longoria signed after three weeks – fantastic deal.

        Paul Goldschmidt signed with basically the same experience as Simmons – amazing value.

        If you get enough of a discount, you go for it.

      • emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Sure, if you could get a discount. But it seems like all of the Braves’ extensions so far have been roughly market value based on their previous performance, which is fine, but seems riskier in Simmons’ case.

  8. emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Might be smarter to wait a year in his case – I know he’s a great defender, but he’s not likely to put up the best defensive WAR season of all time again. If he’s merely very good-to-great next year, it seems like his cost would go down at least a bit next offseason.

    • emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      That was a reply in re: a Simmons extension, not a comment on Kimbrel…

    • Kevin S. - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:56 PM

      Well, it depends on what price you get him at. If he agrees to a deal that pays him like a +3-3.5 win player, you go for it. If the price is like last season is his baseline, you wait and make him prove it’s his baseline.

    • dontcallmepete - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      What happens if the cost goes UP?

  9. raiders4life5150 - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    We locked up the player I wanted us to lock up for awhile best closer in the game your chances of beating my Braves are slim if we hvae Kimbrel in

  10. jkaflagg - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:59 PM

    Good to see a proven closer earn a good contract….all the statheads insist that closers are overpaid and overrated, but out on the field where the games are actually played, a lights-out closer does great things for a team’s confidence, just as blowing a late lead can foster a losing environment.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:42 PM

      [win % entering the 9th with the team in the lead, aka save situation, per Joe Pos]

      So, how much can new strategies affect the game? Well, if you look at the big picture, you have to go to the next decimal to find the differences:

      1950s: .948
      1960s: .946
      1970s: .948
      1980s: .951
      1990s: .949
      2000s: .954
      2010s: .952

      That’s a half win difference over 162 games.

      http://joeposnanski.com/joeblogs/the-closer-you-get/

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        err half win difference over 162 games from 1950 to 2010.

  11. bellerophon30 - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    The only problem with the contract is that Kimbrel is so good it’s not clear that he can even get better. I’m hoping that he has a Rivera type body and arm, it’ll be fun to watch him for the next 15 years.

    Great deal by the Braves, and I’m happy for Craig, who seems like a great guy.

  12. wpjohnson - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    It looks like the biggest move by the Braves was to hire John Hart. these moves are strictly John Hart. Wren would never step out like this. Now, they need to lock up Andrelton.

  13. recoveringcubsfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Nice to see a team lock up one of the best crops of talent anyone’s been able to develop in years. The Braves have almost felt like the A’s East the last few years, rotating through players without committing, keeping costs down. I look forward to many years of intense games between these guys and the Nationals’ core of young players.

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